It almost defies belief that Opel’s B-segment compact SUV is already in its third generation. The new car is a breath of fresh air with all the makings of a segment leader.
The Opel brand has been part of the South African motoring landscape for several decades, with models such as the Opel Kadette, Astra, and Corsa being extremely popular here. However, at the end of 2017, the brand all but became an unavoidable casualty of the withdrawal of General Motors from South Africa. Although Opel was distributed and supported by the Williams Hunt dealer network for a short period, until Stellantis restored full operations in 2021, the brand inevitably took a knock in the eye of an already fiercely brand loyal market.
Stellantis has steadily worked to return the Opel brand to its former glory, easing buyer anxiety by introducing a steady stream of new models, including the new Corsa in early 2021, the Crossland, the Zafira Life, and now the uber-stylish third-generation Opel Mokka.
ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS
The new Mokka radiates sophistication in its form, building on Russelsheim’s refined new design language with the distinctive Vizor front end that spans the car’s width and connects the Mokka’s signature “Opel Wing” daytime running lights and standard-spec LED headlights. To achieve this striking look that elevates the Mokka’s front-end design above the riff-raff, Opel has moved the grill to below the front bumper.
Opel has also introduced its updated lightning bolt emblem on the new Mokka to celebrate the brand’s 160th anniversary.
New Mokka is built on the same platform as the Corsa and has shrunk in length to 4,151 mm (losing 124 mm) while gaining 10 mm in width to 1,791 mm. The size difference won’t be noticeable to the naked eye without a side-by-side comparison, although the size deficit is felt in the interior, which seems less roomy than before for rear passengers.
Other notable design highlights include the full-LED taillights and the new badge naming convention on the hatch lid. A chrome-diffuser adds a touch of elegance and sportiness to the lower portion of the rear bumper, while 17” alloy wheels – in bi-colour or black finish, depending on the model – enhance the Mokka’s contemporary flank design.
Opel introduces its Pure Panel layout concept, with two driver-biassed screens angled towards the driver. The exact specifications of the interior setup are determined by the model, with the entry Elegance trim getting two 7” screens. In comparison, the GS Line is upgraded to 10” screens for its IntelliLink touchscreen infotainment system.
Opel intended to minimise the need to scroll through endless infotainment menus by keeping some function buttons, creating a de facto ‘digital detox’ experience for the front passengers.
Despite being less digitally demanding, the Mokka bristles with under-the-skin tech, including a range of active and passive safety systems such as Lane Keep Assist, Forward Brake Assist, and Blindspot Detection. The GS Line adds active intervention to these systems with Adaptive Cruise Control, and Forward Collision Avoidance and Mitigation. The range-topping GS Line also gets intelligent Matrix LED headlights, keyless entry and go, and massaging front seats.
The new design energy evident on the car’s exterior is echoed in the detailed and well-executed interior. The futurism continues unabated, like so many products in the Stellantis stable, including the South African Car of the Year-winning Peugeot 2008, which is a direct competitor to the new Mokka. If there is parts-sharing between these cars, Opel has hidden it well. The Mokka has a unique identity and feel that bodes well for the future of the Opel brand.
POWER ‘ER UP!
Opel leans heavily on the expertise in the Stellantis stable for the Mokka’s power needs. The 1.2-litre three-cylinder PureTech turbocharged mill (good for 96 kW of power and 230 Nm of torque) that drives the Mokka is also found in the Peugeot 208, 2008, and the Opel Corsa. Despite this, the application finds unique expression in the Mokka, courtesy of a new eight-speed automatic.
Using its eight gears to full advantage, the Mokka blips through the revs with ease, bestowing a reasonable zero to 100 km/h sprint time of 9.2 seconds on the Manta-inspired compact SUV. During the launch drive (mostly during overtaking manoeuvres), the gearbox would find itself hunting for an appropriate gear. The Mokka will engage its highest gears even at relatively low speeds to keep fuel consumption down, causing the gearing-down anomaly. More an annoyance than a flaw, the upside to the gearbox calibration is a claimed 6.1 l/100 km fuel consumption rate that should set smiles ablaze for most buyers.
Opel’s re-energised line-up of cars should inspire a great deal of excitement among new car buyers. Inexplicably, however, Stellantis is yet to see the kind of sales worthy of its new generation of cars. In its segment, the Mokka has all the qualities to be a game-changer for the brand.
Report by BERNIE HELLBERG JR | Images © OPEL SOUTH AFRICA